The car alarms on Lansdowne Street had been silenced for only a matter of hours before Giancarlo Stanton began denting the second-deck seats at Rogers Centre on Tuesday night. His three-run blast, his fourth homer in as many games, blew open the Yankees’ 7-2 win over the Blue Jays.
When we last left Stanton, he was launching moonshots high over the Green Monster seats, sending baseballs into Fenway orbit, touching down amid the traffic outside. He almost singlehandedly buried the Red Sox as the MVP of the weekend’s Boston Massacre, putting the Yankees on his shoulders and into the first wild-card spot, which they now lead by two games (with five to play) thanks to the Orioles shocking the Sox on Tuesday night back in the States.
Stanton is scarier than the Yankees’ remaining schedule, and the way he’s murdering baseballs at the moment, they should fear no one. The iron of the AL East is bending to the maple in Stanton’s hands, and it’s been spectacular to watch.
"I always want to succeed in those moments and I have to prepare myself in all aspects to do so," Stanton said. "So it’s good to be able to come through in those moments and just help us win. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about, if I come through or not."
With Stanton adding a rocket double in the ninth, he’s 9-for-17 with four homers in his last four games, and the 13 RBIs are the most he’s ever had in a four-game span. Stanton also is the first Yankee to string together that many RBIs in such a small September sample since Paul O’Neill in 1999.
"Look, we’re playing for keeps, we’re playing for a lot," Aaron Boone said. "And I think G is embodying that right now. He understands how important every pitch is, every inning is, every at-bat is, so he’s taking nothing off."
While Stanton has been destroying pitchers since the start of August, he’s found another gear as the stakes get higher. On Tuesday night, it was the Jays’ turn, and specifically reliever Trevor Richards, who found himself in the unenviable position of facing Stanton with two on and two out in the seventh inning.
What choice did Richards have? He walked Aaron Judge, who already had a homer and sacrifice fly to help the Yankees build a 3-2 lead, and Stanton had been contained to that point with a strikeout and a pair of groundouts. Richards probably was as surprised as anyone in the building when Stanton somehow made contact with his 2-and-2 changeup, an 85-mph diver that was well below the strike zone.
"He threw me a couple that were in the vicinity . . . I just had to stay inside of it and try to scoop it," Stanton said. "With that mentality, sometimes you’ll get to those."
It was a pitch that Stanton easily could have waved over maybe eight times out of 10. But not this version of Stanton, who is zeroing in on baseballs with Terminator-like precision, with similar destructive force. Stanton golfed the changeup 421 feet into the second deck in leftfield for a three-run homer, a stunning blast that sucked the air out of Rogers Centre.
"I feel like any big situation, he’s going to come through," Judge said. "It’s just impressive what he’s been able to do. Every single night he’s coming up with a big hit for us. You don’t see that too often, especially like the pitch he hit tonight."
Here’s two key points to put that pitch in context. Exhibit A: Richards had thrown 917 changeups down and out of the strike zone in his career, according to MLB.com, and none had left the ballpark. Exhibit B: The changeup was only 1.26 feet above the ground, the lowest pitch Stanton has ever smashed for a homer during his 12-year career (347 home runs total). He practically golfed it from one knee.
"He’s a unicorn," Boone said. "We just kind of shake our heads sometimes."
It was Stanton’s 35th homer this season, right behind Judge’s team-high 37, but that tells only a fraction of what he’s been up to lately. He’s blasted nine homers in his last 15 games and 15 in his last 31. In 49 games beginning Aug. 3, he has 19 homers and 50 RBIs. Before Tuesday’s huge series opener against the Blue Jays, Stanton earned player of the week honors, due in part to his ridiculous .409/.440/1.000 slash line.
With what the Yankees have riding on this final week, they’ll happily climb on Stanton's back for this stretch run. He’s carving them a path straight to the playoffs, steamrolling anyone who gets in his way.